Written by John Plestina
A Minot, N.D., man with four previous felony convictions was sentenced in 15th District Court, Wednesday, Oct. 29.
Judge David Cybulski sentenced Brandon J. Bigham to 12 years in the custody of the Montana Department of Corrections with eight years suspended six months on each of two misdemeanor charges, suspended, a $25,000 fine and credit for 231 days previously served.
The recommendation in the plea agreement was for eight years confinement to the DOC with four years suspended.
Cybulski cited that the 30-year-old had four felony convictions over an 11-year period, including a drug-related conviction in Oklahoma as justification for the 12-year sentence with time suspended, allowing for longer probation supervision.
Probation and Parole Officer Trevor Newman completed the pre-sentencing investigation. He testified during the sentencing hearing that he did not agree with the sentencing recommendations in the plea agreement Bigham signed during early October and recommended commitment to the Montana State Prison for 10 years with five years suspended.
“In the initial interview, he [Bigham] was against [substance abuse] treatment of any length of time,” Newman testified, and also said that Bigham later said he would go to a 60- or 90-day treatment program.
He cited previous incarceration.
“The fact is, he has not stayed sober outside of being incarcerated his whole adult life,” Newman told the court.
He went on to say that the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office told him detention officers had trouble with Bigham in the jail. Fighting with other inmates was cited.
“He’s young and I like to think younger people are more amenable to redirection,” defense attorney Allison Moulton said.
She asked the court to impose sentencing in accordance with the plea agreement.
During a redirect, Roosevelt County Attorney Ralph Patch cautioned that there could be problems if a stricter sentence is imposed than is called for in the plea agreement. He said a Montana Supreme Court ruling could allow Bigham to withdraw his plea agreement if the agreement is not followed.
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped a car carrying Bigham, Malinda Bibb, 31, and Jamie D. Vert, 36, all of Minot, on U.S. Hwy. 2 near Bainville, on Sept. 20, 2013. Vert was driving, according to the charging documents.
Methamphetamine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia and weapons [no firearms] were found in the vehicle, according to charging documents.
All three were subsequently arraigned on felony charges. Bigham and Vert pleaded not guilty to all charges and both later withdrew guilty pleas under plea agreements.
Bigham pleaded not guilty in 2013 to felony criminal possession with intent to distribute and two misdemeanor charges of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
Police in North Dakota arrested Bigham in September while out on bail. Cybulski added $20,000 to $10,000 bond Bigham previously posted. He remained lodged in the Roosevelt County Jail until his sentencing.
Bigham withdrew his previously entered not guilty pleas and entered guilty pleas, Wednesday, Oct. 15, behind closed doors in Judge David Cybulski’s chambers with his attorney and Assistant County Attorney Jordan Knudsen present. The reason stated by an officer of the court for the closed hearing was that Bigham did not want to plead in public.
Written by John Plestina
The Montana Supreme Court has ordered the state Department of Justice to respond to assertions in a petition filed by an attorney representing former Poplar resident Barry Beach.
The petition was filed Thursday, Oct. 23, and asks that Beach be re-sentenced. Wednesday, Oct. 29, the highest state court ordered the DOJ to respond within 30 days, by Nov. 28.
DOJ attorneys must answer allegations in the petition that Beach’s 100-year sentence that was handed down in 1984 is not legal because Beach was a minor at the time the crime was committed and the sentence does not provide an opportunity for him to obtain his freedom.
A 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling requires judges who impose sentences to take into consideration that minors are not as responsible for crimes as adults and more likely than adult offenders to be reformed.
The petition asks the Supreme Court to order that Beach, 52, be re-sentenced with consideration that he was 17 years old at the time of the offense he was convicted of.
Beach was convicted in 17th District Court in Glasgow in April 1984 of the 1979 beating death of Poplar High School classmate Kim Nees and dumping her body in the Poplar River. Beach has maintained his innocence for 35 years.
In June, the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole rejected an application from Beach for a full clemency hearing.
Written by Herald-News
A free workshop dedicated to help individuals grow existing business will be held in Greet the Dawn Auditorium on the Fort Peck Community College Poplar campus Tuesday, Nov. 18, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The Native American Development Corporation, Small Business Administration, Montana Small Business Development Center and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise will conduct the workshop.
Dr. William R Osgood will cover all aspects of growing a business, including building a strategy and business plan, financial forecasting, putting it all together and utilizing/building networks.
Stephen Fox of the Native American Development Corporation, Tom White of the Small Business Administration and Shannon Hahn of Disadvantaged Business Enterprise will be at the meeting.
Visit www.NADC- NABN.org to register for the workshop.
Written by Herald-News
A man who rolled a pickup truck carrying five passengers on Montana Secondary Hwy. 480 just north of the bridge that leads into Richland County was charged with DUI.
The Montana Highway Patrol identified the driver as Nolan Hendrickson, 26, of Poplar. He was also charged with seatbelt and no liability insurance violations.
MHP trooper Steve Nard said the five passengers were four adults and one child.
He said four people were transported by ambulance to Northeast Montana Health Services - Poplar Campus were they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Nard said the 1996 Chevrolet 1500 was northbound, went off the east side of the roadway, overcorrected and rolled.
Written by John Plestina
A group of several hunters in rural Valley County found a wrecked SUV with a body inside Thursday, Oct. 30, 41 days after the driver had been reported missing.
The Montana Highway Patrol reported that the 1995 GMC Suburban drove off Gilberson Road, about a mile west of Montana Hwy. 24 and about eight miles northeast of Glasgow.
The MHP identified the driver as Kevin A. Coverdell, 52. He carried a Wyoming driver’s license and the SUV he was driving was registered in North Dakota. MHP Trooper Mitch Willett said Coverdell was living in Glasgow at the time of his death and had ties to Rock Springs, Wyo., and western Montana.
Coverdell was reported missing to the Valley County Sheriff’s Office Sept. 19. He was last seen in Glasgow that morning and the MHP believes he died in the crash that day. The VCSO put out an attempt to locate with no reported sightings of Coverdell’s vehicle.
“We’re going to say the crash happened on the 19th. We cannot pin down the date the crash happened,” Willett said.
He said Coverdell was driving eastbound on Gilberson Road and drove off the road at a “T” intersection, hit an old farm tire and then struck an old piece of farm equipment at the crest of a hill, pushing it down the hill. The SUV flipped over and landed on its top with the roof caved in.
Willett said Coverdell was not wearing a seatbelt.
Coverdell was believed to have been alone in the Suburban and there are no known witnesses. The cause of the crash might remain unknown, according to Willett.